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Closet Fascination

A blog about a journey, smoking, not smoking, vaping and everything in between

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quitting smoking

An Update of Sorts

I thought I would write an update of sorts. Life is pretty good for me right now. Even though when I seem to get one area of life under control, another slips. I haven’t been doing great with eating lately. Namely, I’ve been eating too much or food that my body doesn’t like, resulting in weight gain and feeling gross. I’m working on it… ok honestly I haven’t been working on it. I have a terrible attitude when I comes to this. I keep telling myself I will start the low FODMAP elimination diet to figure out my trigger foods next week and it keeps getting put off. It reminds me of when I was contemplating quitting vaping, which means I will eventually get off my ass and do this.

I just started a new position at work. It started out a bit stressful with a crisis my boss was dealing with in his personal life. But things seem to be settling down.

Today, watching a woman smoke in her car, I realized just how appealing I still think smoking is. But it is tempered with the fact that I don’t really want to smoke myself. I think back to how anxious I felt all the time when I was using regularly and it literally kills my desire.

Writing smoking fiction seems to help channel the desire too. I’ve written two chapters to Strange and Beautiful, Chapter 22 and Chapter 23. Sometimes it backfires and makes me want to smoke more, but on the whole, it serves it’s purpose. I think this story is almost done. Apparently it is really long now, like almost novella length. I mean theoretically it could go on indefinitely, but I want it to have an ending.

That is all for tonight, hope this post finds my readers well.

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Feeling Better…

I have to say, I was pretty taken aback by how awful I felt for about two days after the cigar puffing incident. If that is how I feel after a bit of cigar puffing, I don’t think I can let myself smoke at all at the conference or let myself and suffer the consequences. Honestly, I think I know how it will go. Get a little tipsy, convince myself it will be ok and then all bets are off for the next two days.

Here is what I have going for me: I don’t think I want to smoke. My slightly alcohol intoxicated brain might have other ideas but I’m going to keep visualizing not smoking at the conference (which is the opposite of what my brain normally does). I’m not sure, but I think my co-worker smoker friend has maybe quit. She has a new boyfriend and she typically quits for her relationships. I didn’t smell it on her the last time I saw her. If she isn’t smoking, I won’t be smoking. There are two other smokers, but I’m not staying in a room with them and so the likelihood of me  asking them for cigarettes is low. I know this sounds like a lot of obsessive strategizing, but this is new territory for me. Prior to my 9 month stint as a full-fledged nicotine addict, the only kind of scheming I did for years was orchestrating opportunities to smoke. I became very good at taking advantage of opportunities to smoke. My plan late last year to let myself smoke every three months was really a rehash of an old plan I had done before. I had a few phases I went through when it came to being an opportunistic smoker.

The first phase was wanting to smoke, but saying no because I didn’t want people to know I wanted to smoke.  Phase 2 was secret smoking. I would buy a pack. Smoke alone and in secret. Become disgusted with myself. Throw out pack. Not smoke for long time. Repeat. The third phase was ‘drunken smoking’ where I would get drunk enough that I wouldn’t care want people thought when I smoked and then I’d use my drunkenness as an excuse for smoking. Phase 4 more regular secret smoking followed by a realization that I was becoming dependent on nicotine. Phase 5 was vaping all the nicotine because I couldn’t bear to smoke all the time.

I guess you could call what I am in now Phase 6. Quit phase. The phase that started because I was no longer getting pleasure from nicotine, only relief from withdrawal. What have my lapses during this phase taught me? Unless I use quite a bit more than a puff or a few puffs, I get relatively little benefit from smoking. Truth be told, I didn’t even really want to puff on the cigar last Saturday. It wouldn’t have been that hard to say, No thank you. I’m not sure why I didn’t. While the cigar tasted good, was it worth the days of depression that followed? Nope.

Given that cigarettes don’t even taste good and that I will have to smoke at least a whole one to get any sort of ‘pleasure’ from one and really I can’t even be sure of that. I’m thinking what is the point?  My plan will be to stay sober enough to make this decision because my other goal for that conference is to not be hungover. You are probably thinking: well don’t drink. True, that is the easiest way not to get hungover but I’m actually pretty good at drinking moderately in my old age. Moderate drinking starting later in the evening it will be.

So the plan: pretend cigarettes are like strawberries, might taste/feel good in the moment, but the consequences are just not worth the pleasure of the moment. I guess we shall see in  19 days.

The Reboot

I’m currently watching the U.S. election results pour in and it has reminded me that nothing in life is guaranteed. Polls are often wrong. I mean, they were wrong about how close this race is. No clear winner yet. But being the introspective person that I am, I’ve started thinking about where I’m going from here, since I find it more comforting than imagining Donald Trump as president. 

Starting Monday, I’m going to add back the following: 

1) Up the exercise. In addition to walking the dog, I’m going to add three higher intensity exercise days of at least 30 minutes

2) Slow down when I’m eating and stop when I’m full.

3) If the urge to smoke arises again before March, puff on the vaporizer (nicotine free). 

I didn’t notice any sort of ‘withdrawal’ from my slight slip yesterday. All it confirmed in my mind is I don’t want to smoke. So you might ask why the weird permission to smoke every 3 months plan, I proposed yesterday? My rationalization is that my desire to smoke has less to actually smoking and more to do with the fact that I told myself I couldn’t. Giving myself a full-time free pass led to very habitual use. Plus, I know I don’t want that now. That killed the part of me that thought regular smoking might be good. To be clear, 3 months is the minimum. If I have no desire, I’m not going to smoke for the sake of smoking.

So here is to my reboot. May the odds be ever in my favor. 

201 days with no incidents…until today

I guess my counter gets reset today. I knew this was coming and maybe I wanted it to at least on some level. 

Relapse. A tiny one, but a relapse nonetheless. 

I had some old stale cigars. I smoked half of one, inhaling only once. You don’t have to inhale to absorb the nicotine, but it tasted so disgusting, that I put it out before I would have normally. I was expecting a more noticeable effect, but I guess nicotine tolerance doesn’t disappear that quickly. 

The good: it took care of my desire to smoke, extinguished it with the disgustingness of the flavour. I felt more at peace than I have in days like it was exactly what I needed. I’m guessing that is partially from the nicotine though too. This was the feeling I liked about smoking/using nicotine but that I feel is lost in regular use. I’ve been abstainant for long enough that my body hasn’t demanded more yet, although in the past, that normally came the next day. Perhaps it won’t come at all. My mindset is different now though. In the past, there was always a small part of me that wanted to smoke regularly. Now, I know that I for sure, deep down don’t want that. So think the likelihood of this starting something is low. 

The bad: I’m not sure if there is a bad. I mean, I don’t feel bad about giving into my desire. Maybe I should? The only bad I see is a potential false sense of confidence for the future. My plan is to keep use very, very occasional. Previously, prior to my 9 month regular use stint, I was an opportunist. The problem with that is if the opportunity pops up too often, it would be easy to slip into regular use. I don’t think I’d end up smoking, I could see it escalating to the point of me vaping regularly. It might be good to set some guidelines, like three months at least between use, not more than one session (one pipe, one cigarillo, one cigarette, one vape session) and no consecutive days of use. Kind of like people have moderate drinking guidelines, but they would be my super moderate smoking/vaping nicotine guidelines.

Is it stupid to think that I could moderate after failing so fantasticly in the past? Perhaps. Abstaining indefinitely, I don’t think will work long term. For me it sets up my fetish, making me want it even more. My blog is good evidence of that. I get to the point where I’m psychologically itching for it. I think 3 months is a good waiting time, but if I don’t fancy it, I’ll go longer.

I want moderation in all areas of my life. I’m tired of living in the extremes. I’m almost there with exercise, although I need to add a bit more back. Food I struggle with, but it is getting easier, I just have to pay more attention to bring full, especially when I eat out. Also, eating regularly rather than letting myself get ravenously hungry. Drinking enough water throughout the day, this I’m still bad with.

If anything, the free pass every three months might remove the taboo enough that I don’t actually feel the drive to smoke/ use nicotine as much. Here is hoping. For now I will enjoy the peace. 

Day 20: No Craving Day!

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I’d say depending on the habit sometimes it takes longer. That said: today I have had zero cravings. I was even in the company of smokers and not once did I long for a cigarette. Nor did I long to vape nicotine laced vapor into my lungs.

It has been a long time since I’ve felt this way. No seriously. I remember longing to smoke from a very young age. A feeling that would often present itself when I was around smokers. The only smoker that couldn’t conjure this feeling in me was my father.

I don’t need to smoke to feel happy.

I don’t need to use nicotine to feel happy.

I can handle my ups and downs without nicotine.

I no longer feel like a non-smoker trapped in a smoker’s body. I am a smoker. I am a vaper. I am a nicotine fiend. I think I will always be all of these things, but I’ve realized I don’t have to be doing any of them actively to have a satisfying fulfilled life.

I found a draft called “Reasons to Quit” dated to May 2009. I never posted it, I think because I wasn’t ready to be done. Funny, I look back at my reasons to quit and they were good but I could tell I wasn’t convinced. Even though I knew they were true I hadn’t really experienced enough to not want to regular smoke, even though I knew that my reason was rational. I mean I had smoked 4 cigarettes over three days and felt one physical craving and decided to quit. Reading what I wrote and published, my ‘quit’ actually was a lesser version of what I just put myself through recently. My body is apparently sensitive enough to feel the hooks of addiction very quickly.

This time I’m armed with months of nicotine use experience to draw on and the fact that vaping actually has ruined smoking cigarettes for me.

In  my old post I was pretty dramatic, wanting to have a funeral for the cigarettes, for their loss from my life. I no longer feel that sense of loss, like I’m giving up a best friend. I feel now like I got to have my good times, I had some bad times and just like growing out of something I feel as though I’ve grown out of it.

Lastly, in my 7 year old entry, I wrote about what I will miss about smoking:

1) The feeling of inhaling, exhaling- breathing fire, blowing the smoke into beautiful plumes.

2) Instant turn-on.

3) The good effects of nicotine… because let’s face it, the drug is not all bad.

I’ll be honest, these are all the things that brought me back again and again. This time, I think nicotine vaping has armed me with a solution, at least for the first two. By the end, number 2 wasn’t happening anymore anyways which is exactly what I predicted. But vaping gives me the feelings of 1) without the fire, which is okay because I’ve grown to like it better. And 9 months of using nicotine, had me build tolerance to the point of the good effects of nicotine becoming mundane to me. So while my brain sometimes tries to trick me by whispering, “But it will be good again, now that you’ve stopped using for a time.” I counter it with, yes but it isn’t worth it.

As it becomes easier and easier to live life nicotine free, I’m going to start working on my other goals.

I’m just 10 days shy of 30 days. If you are just starting, it gets easier- just take those first few  days, 1 hour at a time, one day at a time. While the cravings seem practically unbearable at first, you’ll know you getting to the right place when you start to feel calm without smoking or using. After that, it becomes much easier and it literally is all in your head.

Day 15: Getting the hang of this

I suppose there will be good days and bad days. Today, was a good day. I’ve discovered I really like vaping while I drive. It is my only habituated situational cue that hasn’t dissipated. I don’t get a craving so much as a light urge that I could ignore, but I figure no reason to deprive myself of the nicotine-free vapor. It scratches that behavioural and sometimes psychological itch I have.

I suspect it will would be harder to quit if:
1. I had started smoking regularly younger as I think the habits would be even more engrained.

2. If I hadn’t gradually reduced my nicotine consumption and done cold turkey straight from 6 or 9 mg. When I first switched to 3 mg, I felt weird but I got used to it.

I honestly think that with proper motivation, vaping is an excellent way to quit. For me, it was an excellent way to try on “what regular smoking might feel like” without actually smoking.

I’m still trying to work out some of my fetishy feelings around smoking. I’ve come to accept that they will always be there, in one way or another. I’ve just learned that I don’t need to engage in using nicotine every day to satisfy it.

I still wonder if I’ll be able to have an occasional pipe or cigar like I did before. I’m not even close to willing to try at this point but I suspect I’ll figure that I can one day and do it. Pipe smoking has never had that habitual draw for me but I suspect I should be prepare for rebound cravings should I go there. I also find, as long as I don’t inhale, I’m good. Right now this last paragraph currently reads like pure addict rationalization but I can’t help but wonder.

Anyhow those are my day 15 thoughts. If you are reading this and just beginning your quit, I can tell you the first few days are the worst. It gets better, so keep at it!

Day 10: Normal is Boring but that is okay

I felt great today. Still had my afternoon crash- might look at how I can change what I am eating/drinking during the day to see if I can alter that because right now that crash is my main craving or time that I would really want some nicotine.

To explain the title of this entry, I felt almost completely normal today. I was happy. I was in a good mood. My mood was stable throughout the day and when things went wrong, it wasn’t the end of the world or I didn’t lose it. The fatigue is fading and I actually now feel that my energy levels are on par or better than they were when I was using.

Not being under the constant ebb and flow of a powerful neurostimulant might not be exciting, but on all levels I feel better. Hence normal is boring but that is okay. I still have to remind myself of that because a big trigger for my use is boredom. My brain has learned that a bit of nicotine fixes the boredom, for a time. Actually boredom is when I would often mindlessly vape all evening practically, especially on weekends. Then I would feel gross but usually it would result in me needing to use more the next day. If I worked the next day, it meant that the day was harder to get through craving wise than normal.

I do miss the sharp focus nicotine provides, but I’m not sure it is worth everything else for me. Especially since this effect was almost non-existent towards the end.

Since tomorrow is Friday, I won’t likely update again until the weekend is over. Saturday will be a true test as it is my friend’s birthday and I likely will drink. The husband recommended I bring my vape so then I can at least join in on the social aspect of smoking should I feel the need. I mean, people tend to not offer you a cigarette when you have one and I can pretend there is nicotine in it for my own personal placebo effect. Until next time….

48 hours nicotine-free

As of 8 pm tonight, I’ll have gone my first 48 hours nicotine free since I started vaping. Not planned, nor am I sure if I will go back to vaping nicotine but it is what it is.

Truth is, if I wasn’t sick, I probably would still be vaping. In fact, that didn’t stop me yesterday or the day before. The first 24 hours, wasn’t bad, I started feeling better and ended up vaping but it made my cold feel worse. Now it has been 48 hours, I’m starting to feel better and therefore have started craving.

I haven’t decided if I want to keep using nicotine. Right now, I just don’t want nicotine to choose. My stubbornness is coming out. I figure if I can get through this craving, I can get through the next and the next.

I don’t regret starting to vape. In fact, I’m grateful. Somehow vaping has allowed me to break my fetish for smoking. I shared a cigarette with my sister at our older sister’s wedding and smoking was finally just smoking. I’m more addicted to vaping in a lot of  ways, but it never had the same attractiveness as smoking did. Some of you might think it is horrible that I’ve somehow uncoupled smoking from sex but I’m glad.

Truth is, I’ll probably vape again. I happen to love blowing clouds of vapor. I have a stash of nicotine-free juice. And if I choose to relapse into my nicotine addiction so be it. But this time if I start again, I’ll use a lower amount of nicotine. I had already, on my own about a month ago, reduced my level to 3 mg. Once I did that, my cravings happened less often.

Anyhow, over the course of writing this post, my craving is starting to subside. If you are reading this and in the process of quitting smoking or nicotine, you can do this. Cravings pass. If you are thinking of using vaping to quit smoking, I say go for it. Especially if you aren’t ready to give up nicotine. At least you will be using a less harmful source of nicotine.

If you are currently trying to reduce your nicotine consumption vaping, my suggestion is to buy a bottle of your favourite juice in 0 mg, use this to adjust the nicotine level of your current juice. Slowly add more and more of the 0 mg juice.  I was vaping 6 mg and used this method to get to 3 mg. I was planning on doing this to get down to zero when I felt ready and then I got sick and didn’t feel like vaping much anyhow.

That is all for now… I’ll update again in a few days.

Comfort Zone: Why Quitting (or starting) Smoking is Hard

This weekend I had some insight as to why it is hard to both quit smoking (or start smoking). Weather is getting warmer here and basically to me and my fiancee that means that it is pipe smoking season. So we had a pipe on Friday evening and it was nice. At some point in the evening, I decided that I wanted to roll some pipe tobacco cigarettes. I’m not sure what came over me, but I decided that I would roll two and smoke them the next day. I had to go into work to do some paperwork, so it would be the perfect time to smoke by myself. Now you are probably thinking, “Before long she’ll be hooked.” Or that I’m going to go back to my closet smoking days. Technically, it was somewhat closeted smoking in that I told nobody and I smoked alone. I didn’t go to super great lengths to hide it like I had in the past. I almost couldn’t wait to smoke the first one and it was everything I expected it to be. I went into work riding a nice buzz that kept me focused for hours. I smoked the next one just after lunch, it was good but less so than the first, probably because I made the filter wrong and it was really hard to draw on.

I didn’t really think about smoking for the rest of the day. I contemplated rolling more cigarettes last night, but opted for just packing the materials so that I could do it the next day if I wanted to. I had to go into work again today and around 9:30 am, I contemplated rolling and smoking another cigarette. It would be so easy, nobody would know. But instead, I just kept working like I normally do. I didn’t really think of smoking at all for the rest of the day.

But it did get me thinking. I work with people teaching them how to make big changes in their lives, like quitting hard drugs or finding better ways to manage their anger. One thing we often talk about is comfort zone. If I had started smoking as a teenager, smoking would be my comfort zone. It would feel weird not doing it. That is why quitting smoking is so hard. Conversely, if you have a well practiced habit of not smoking, it is your comfort zone and despite how addictive smoking might be,  I think it is this very thing that allows me to smoke occasionally. That said, if I were surrounded by smokers in my life, it would be a different story. Smoking would become part of my comfort zone making it much easier to start. I think this is why there are quite a few closeted/occasional smokers. It allows people to step out of their comfort zones for brief moments in the case of the occasional smoker or the hidden smoking becomes their comfort zone in the case of the closet smoker.

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